When life gives you lemons, make lemonade… and if you’ve got lemonade, make a lemonade stand. However, when Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation gives you millions in research funding, now you can help cure childhood cancer. Thanks to a little girl who once made lemonade to raise money for childhood cancer research, two UC San Francisco faculty members are among researchers being nationally acknowledged for their work in pediatric oncology.
The recognition comes in the form of a $1.35 million award from Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation (ALSF), a nonprofit organization dedicated to finding cures for childhood cancers, and given to UCSF’s Adam de Smith, PhD, Kyle Walsh, PhD, and Duke University’s Lisa Crose, PhD. De Smith plans to examine acute lymphoblastic leukemia, while Walsh will study osteosarcoma.
The award, which provides recipients with $150,000 per year for three years, will also include the opportunity to speak and attend Foundation events, reference books to enhance the researchers’ personal pediatric oncology libraries, equipment to aid in their research (up to $10,000 value) and funding to attend one educational course or event.
Adam de Smith, PhD is using his share of the generous grant to study acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) in conjunction with Down’s syndrome, which comes with a 20-fold increased risk of ALL. Furthermore, children with ALL and DS ("DS-ALL") have increased treatment-related deaths and disease recurrence than children without DS. Determining the cause of DS-ALL is, therefore, of paramount importance. This study is designed to discover why some children with DS contract leukemia while others do not.
“I truly feel honored to have been selected for this award from such a prominent childhood cancer charity,” said de Smith, an assistant professional researcher in the UCSF School of Medicine’s Department of Epidemiology & Biostatistics. “It is also the first research grant that I have received in my academic career to date, and it will enable me to carry out a comprehensive and unique investigation into the causes of acute lymphoblastic leukemia in children with Down syndrome. This ALSF 'A' Award will provide an invaluable source of funding that will hopefully help me to establish my own research lab here at UCSF, with a particular focus on identifying risk factors for childhood leukemia,” de Smith said.
Kyle Walsh, PhD the co-award recipient from UCSF, hopes that by studying genes that contribute to human height, he can learn more about the onset of osteosarcoma.
Osteosarcoma rates increase with age until puberty, at which point risk declines markedly. Pediatric osteosarcoma is associated with increased birth weight, taller stature and male gender. Biological pathways related to childhood growth and development likely play an important role in the development of osteosarcoma, but congenital causes remain poorly understood.
Funding for the research of Dr. Walsh will go toward comparing the genomes of 545 children with osteosarcoma to the genomes of 3545 cancer-free individuals to identify genetic risk factors underlying this disease, including potential biomarkers of future osteosarcoma risk. According to Walsh, this could help detect susceptible populations and identify children with potentially aggressive tumor behavior.
"Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation has a rich history of funding high-impact pediatric oncology research," said Walsh, assistant professor in residence of neurological surgery and epidemiology and biostatistics in the UCSF Department of Neurological Surgery. "I am excited to join the ranks of previous award recipients and I look forward to using the funding to investigate osteosarcoma etiology. Children who are tall for their age are at greatly increased risk to develop osteosarcoma, a malignant bone cancer."
According to a university press release, these awards joined a prestigious line of medical and nursing grants from Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation in 2009 to encourage the best and brightest young researchers to build lifelong careers in the field. ALSF works to find and support exceptional early-career researchers by operating under the belief that engaging researchers early in their career leads to a long term commitment to find a cure.
This award is not the only example of significant funding relevant to UCSF medicine, however. Here are some more examples of recent UCSF life science funding:
- UCSF is a $1 billion research market located within a $3 billion campus
- UCSF Life Science R & D Expenditures for FY 2012 were $1,018,481,000
- The university has 4,000 employees, researchers, and students, as well as five Nobel Prize winners.
- Three health and medical sciences buildings are in the process of being renovated, costing up to $37 million
The University of San Francisco is home to some of California’s leading bioresearchers, and represents a growing marketing opportunity for vendors of laboratory equipment and consumables.
Laboratory suppliers that would like to increase lab sales by marketing directly to eminent and well-funded researchers can target the UC San Francisco marketplaces at the 10th Biotechnology Vendor Showcase™ Event at UC San Francisco, Mission Bay on February 26, 2015.
Last year’s event at UCSF attracted 292 attendees, including 107 purchasing agents, professors and post docs, and 47 lab managers from 16 different research buildings and 44 on-campus departments.
Click below to increase your products' exposure in the UCSF research market by becoming an exhibitor at this industry-leading event: